'This I know for sure: You learn and know by asking." These were the words of Oprah Winfrey to the Class of 2000 at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "And if you ask the question," she said, "it shall be given."
Her question: "Lord, what would you have me do? How would you use me? How would you use this life?"
Because of her success, Oprah has been able to reach out and help many people. Humbly acknowledging God's role in her life, she is obviously listening for His direction and wanting to be responsive to the direction that follows.
I wish I'd heard Oprah at my own commencement. After college, I moved to a city to be near a boyfriend and to be independent from my family. I had not sent out any rsums and was basically willing to take any job that sounded even slightly interesting.
After a couple of years, I'd worked in several unfulfilling jobs and no longer had that boyfriend. I decided to do temp work while trying to determine the next career move. Not having had much success thus far, I began making a list of things I wanted to have in a job.
It was surprising to find that my list did not include money, short work hours, or benefits. Instead, what was on the list were things such as stability, creativity, teamwork, and beauty. Ultimately, I was looking for a job where I would be giving instead of just receiving. And giving to me means expressing spiritual qualities - those good qualities we all include because we are God's children. We're made to reflect God. Patience, thoroughness, inspiration, and love are some examples of spiritual qualities. I was looking for an environment that would allow me to express such qualities.
Compared with the way in which I had looked for a job in the past, this was a big change.
I realized at this point that I really needed to open up and ask for God's guidance and support. A Bible verse that I knew came to mind: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Prov. 3:5, 6). This told me to be more humble in my search for independence. To be willing to listen to God and follow His direction. In the words of Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor, "What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 4).
Several days later, I interviewed for a job where I was told some of the people were difficult to work with. My first thought was that I really wanted to be in an environment where there was teamwork. But then it occurred to me that maybe my own outlook could help bring cohesion to that office. This business was in my field of study, and I decided to accept the job when it was offered.
Although I was teamed up with an individual who was labeled "impossible to work with," her irritability diminished as I was patient and thorough in my work. We actually enjoyed working together and became good friends. During the years I was with that company, there were many opportunities to bring my own expression of God's qualities to the office environment and to the projects we were working on. I not only gained a better knowledge of the business but grew to understand more clearly what it meant to express God.
The lesson Oprah learned - to turn first to God and to follow His direction - ultimately became clear to me, too.
Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Frances R. Havergal
The Christian Science Journal, a monthly magazine, contains in-depth articles on finding divine guidance.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society